The Sefirot: The Ten Fundamental Essences of Kabbalah

Part of the Kabbalah For Dummies Cheat Sheet

A fundamental notion in Kabbalah is the belief that the world is created and sustained by ten channels (sefirot) of divine plenty. The sefirot are complex, each with many different meanings and gradation. Two of them, Keter and Da'at, are interchangeable depending on whether the sefirot are seen from God's viewpoint or from the human perspective.

The lower seven sefirot directly act on the world (while those sefirot above them are abstract aspects of consciousness) and they each have a biblical personality associated with them. These associations work in two ways: One can understand more about the biblical figures through the sefirot connected with them, and one can learn more about the nature of each sefirah when seeing its corresponding biblical figure.

  • Keter (crown): Keter is Divine Will and the source of all delight and pleasure. Keter contains all the powers that activate the soul.

  • Chochmah (wisdom): Chochmah is intuitive grasp and intuitive knowledge. It's also that which distinguishes and creates.

  • Binah (understanding): Binah is the analytical and synthetic power of the mind. It's the source of logical analysis.

  • Da'at (knowledge): Da'at is the accumulation of that which is known. It's the abstract ascertaining of facts and the crystallization of awareness in terms of conclusions.

  • Chesed (loving kindness): Chesed is the irrepressible impulse to expand. It's the source of love, the inclination toward things, and that which gives of itself. The biblical personality associated with Chesed is Abraham.

  • Gevurah (strength): Gevurah is restraint and concentration. It's the inward withdrawal of forces and the energy source of hate, fear, terror, justice, restraint, and control. The biblical personality associated with Gevurah is Isaac.

  • Tiferet (beauty): Tiferet is harmony, truth, compassion, and beauty. It's the balance of the powers of attraction and repulsion. The biblical personality associated with Tiferet is Jacob.

  • Netzach (victory): Netzach is the source of conquest and the capacity for overcoming. It's the urge to get things done. The biblical personality associated with Netzach is Moses.

  • Hod (splendor): Hod is persistence or holding on. It's the power to repudiate obstacles and to persevere; it's also the source of humility. The biblical personality associated with Hod is Aaron.

  • Yesod (foundation): Yesod is the vehicle or the carrier from one thing or condition to another. It's the power of connection and the capacity or will to build bridges, to make connections, and to relate to others. The biblical personality associated with Yesod is Joseph.

  • Malkhut (kingdom): Malkhut is sovereignty, rule, and the ultimate receptacle. It's the realization of potential and the Divine Presence. The biblical personality associated with Malkhut is David.

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